View Full Version : The "older than the age statement" switcharoo: first Michters 10, soon VWFRR?

01-11-2012, 17:55
Saw Gillman noting on another thread that the Michters 10 year rye is "generally accepted" to be 18 years.

Well, that was true. I've had a few older bottles -- stuff that seems to have been on the shelf for a few years or so. Each of them provided me the wonderful experience of cork shattering upon opening and subsequent fishing of cork pieces out and/or filtering and re-bottling.

Excellent stuff, and reminiscent enough of VWFRR to make me happy. From whence it came, I know not. But even at $80 or so, it still seemed worth it. Great, super-aged rye. My bottles disappeared quickly.

So when some new inventory showed up at a local shop -- for over $100 -- I decided to spring for it. I really do think a "fool me once ..." approach to whiskey buying is good for karma -- I had such a great 2011 that I more or less DESERVE to spring for a few doozies.

This "new" Michters 10 is just not the same. It's thin and utterly unmemorable. Definitely not more than a few days older than 10 yo. While we can pick apart the differences among the various old fogey ryes out there, there are obvious similarities among ryes like Saz 18, BMH 23, VWFRR 19, etc.

Why did the Michters folks label a 18 year rye as a 10 year? Ya got me. Seems like it would have commanded a better price with an accurate age statement. I read somewhere some malarkey about "they had already printed the labels." OK, whatevs. In any event, using the lower age allowed them to switch back to a much younger product later on.

What worries me THE MOST -- as in keeps me awake at night, dripping with sweat, teeth chattering, running to my liquor cabinet to guzzle down a bottle of VWFRR and then realizing, no, no, NO! MUST NOT DRINK MY VWFRR, MUST NOT DRINK IT BECAUSE THEN IT WILL BE GONE -- O how these vanishing products: SW, Medley rye, et al must ultimately and inexorably remind us all that these whiskeys are a metaphor for death and our worship of them is more or less a form of necrophilia -- yes, what worries me the most is that St. Julian will do this to me as well.

Maybe others have worried about this elsewhere, but whenever the BT produced rye to be used for new VWFRR is ready, it seems we'll be going from a 19 year rye to a 13 year rye. Now from my prodigious studies of SB.com posts from the distant early days of the last decade, it does seem that quite a few of you enjoyed VWFRR -- aye, even PREFERRED it! -- when it was younger. So some of my fears may just be unfounded. But I do think "what I think about when I think about VWFRR" is a 19 year rye. And there's always been this sort of unspoken understanding that VWFRR is a 19 year rye. Yet the label "lies about its age" (I look younger than I am, so I know the temptation!) ...

If I were advising Julian -- which I admit is a preposterous fantasy -- but in this f'd up alternate world where Julian listens to my advice and follows it, I would tell him to be sure to re-christen the VWFRR line as a series of increasingly older products. Maybe even hold over some of the 19 year stuff so that when they do ultimately have 13 year stuff, they can have a 13 and a 19 or whatever.

I just know that if a day comes when I pop off the red foil and stare lustfully at that wonderful parchment label and pour something that tastes nothing at all like VWFRR, my heart will break a little bit. OK, not a little bit. A lot.

And common sense says that day will be coming in the next few years.

01-11-2012, 20:41
O how these vanishing products: SW, Medley rye, et al must ultimately and inexorably remind us all that these whiskeys are a metaphor for death and our worship of them is more or less a form of necrophilia

I hope you'll agree to excuse me from your intimations of necrophilia. It's a fascinating idea, but quite honestly, it just doesn't fit...

The death metaphor is spot on, however. We all age, just as the last children of our dearly departed distilleries continue(d) to ripen and mature in their barrels (or, uhh, stainless steel as the case may be) even as their parents have long ago passed into the great beyond. And we endeavor to cheat death by hoarding as many bottles of this nevermore juice as we can so that we may continue to celebrate their glorious flavors though their makers shall not resurrect.

The passage of time is inevitable, and all good things come to an end. The disassociation between label and provenance makes these matters more urgent and frustrating, because it takes so much energy to learn only half-truths. So one advantage of the old juice disappearing is that the more whiskey-centric marketplace of today seems to be demanding more transparency. But this is the first transition I've lived through, so I don't know first-hand how it compares to the 70s-90s.

Anyway, I've made it a practice when I'm hoisting the stuff that's going away to direct a cheers towards the very much alive and well Four Roses, because if there's any distillery that lessens the pain of loss for the past, that's the one.

01-16-2012, 10:08
Amen. These are the good old days.